Things That Matter

Here’s How To Support California Farmworkers On Thanksgiving As They Continue To Work Through Bad Air Conditions

The wildfires in California have ravaged the state. An estimated 699 people remain missing, and so far 79 people have died. The fires are not yet contained. In Southern California, as of today, the Woolsey Fire that affected parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties is 96 percent contained. In Northern California, the Camp Fire, which is where more than 60 people died, is as of now, 70 percent contained.

The California wildfires have led to the worst air quality in the world affecting millions of people.

CREDIT: Facebook/Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

The fires started between November 8 and 12. Farmworkers in the state have had no other choice but to continue working. Despite the unhealthy air conditions photos have circulated on social media of farmworkers harvesting produce as the smoky air lingers above them.

The United Farmworkers (UFW) has said that some farmworkers, that are protected by their union, have been told not to work because operations have shut down due to unhealthy air quality.

CREDIT: Facebook/Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

“Some companies where farmworkers are protected by United Farm Workers contracts and that are affected by both the Camp and Woolsey fires have shut down operations when air quality got especially hazardous,” UFW said on Facebook.

However, because not all are protected under UFW, people have been helping out by distributing face masks to workers.

CREDIT: Facebook/Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

“We set a time to meet once we started seeing the sky. The air was getting worse and worse,” Aracely Preciado, from the organization Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), told Pacific Standard magazine. “We sent out a call on social media, and students and other community members began showing up.”

A 22-year-old teacher also took it upon herself to pass out masks in Lodi, California.

CREDIT: Facebook/@FrankSomervilleKTVU/

“I don’t have the emotional capacity to go into detail about this just yet because I just got home and feel really tired, but today I spent my day in Lodi just 1 1/2 hrs away from San Jose to hand out masks to farmworkers in rural communities,” Paulina Cortes said, according to KTVU anchor Frank Somerville. “Find a way to give to a community who needs help. Thank you to everyone who is supporting me through donations. I drove through San Jose and all the way to Salinas to find the amount of masks I needed. This is important. The story here isn’t that I handed out masks, it’s that there are hundreds of people who are working in HAZARDOUS environments with NO protection. And no one even knows about it.”

Now that Thanksgiving is here, farmworkers need help and support more than ever.

As we figure out grocery lists and what to serve on Thanksgiving, UFW recommends purchasing from a selective group of goods in order to best support farmworkers.

It’s important to note that, according to the Washington Post, there’s 2 million to 3 million farmworkers in the country, but the UFW only represents 10,000 people.

Certain produce companies give UFW union members good worker benefits.

Celebrate the Holidays with UFW union products! The holiday season is about to start and that often means meals with…

Posted by UFW on Friday, November 16, 2018

Not all farmworkers have protections. The more people purchase from a select group of companies, the more inclined they will be to give back to their employees. They’ve made it really easy to know which companies to support. Click here for more information.

A group of school children have also reached out to farmworkers just to say “thank you for your hard work.”

CREDIT: facebook.com/unitedfarmworkers

UFW reports that elementary kids from Oregon and Washington made Thanksgiving cards to let their local farm workers “know how much they appreciate the hard work they put into producing the food that we will be enjoying this Thanksgiving!”

So if you can’t pass out masks or send out Thanksgiving thank you cards, here’s other options for you.

https://www.facebook.com/unitedfarmworkers/photos/pcb.10155935122091547/10155935120301547/?type=3&theater
CREDIT: UFW / Facebook

To help the UFW and their union members, click here.

For more information on the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice and support the work they do, click here.

To educate yourself about the National Center for Farmworker Health, click here.

This Thanksgiving as we partake on amazing foods, let’s take time to reflect on where the food is coming from because who knows how much longer farmworkers will be around.


READ: Latino Businessman Allegedly Had Mexican Farmworkers Living in Buses And Paid Them Less Than What He Promised

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California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Things That Matter

California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

The world is racing to vaccinate everyone to put a stop to the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., states and counties are rolling out their own plans based on suggestions from health experts. California, home to the largest population of farmworkers, is making them a priority.

California has laid out their vaccination plan and farmworkers are being prioritized.

California is facing a relentless Covid-19 surge of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. According to The New York Times, California has the second-highest level of infections per capita in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have died of Covid in California and the vaccination effort has been severely lagging.

California’s vaccination plan has been criticized for its very slow roll out.

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 816,000 doses of the virus have been given to residents. There have been more than 2 million vaccine doses shipped to California. Currently, California, the most populated state in the country, is still in Phase 1A. Phase 1A is for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The Vaccinate All 58 campaign claims that there are 3 million people in California in Phase 1A. Almost 40 million people live in California.

Activists have been calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to make sure that farmworkers are prioritized.

California is home to the largest concentration of farmworkers in the U.S. The Center for Farmworker Families claims that 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers, or about 1/3 to 1/2 of the farmworker populations, live in California. Seventy-five percent of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

As the rest of the state was able to shelter in place, farmworkers did not stop working. They provided a necessary lifeline to the nation in keeping the food supply running. Farmworkers are more likely to contract Covid because of their living conditions. Studies show that the low wages that farmworkers are paid means that many live in crowded conditions.

READ: As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

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Two Teen Girls Died in a Suspicious House Fire During a Sleepover After a Quinceañera; Police Suspect Foul Play

Things That Matter

Two Teen Girls Died in a Suspicious House Fire During a Sleepover After a Quinceañera; Police Suspect Foul Play

CREDIT: CITY OF FREDERICKSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT

On November 22nd, Lisa Treviño received news that is every mother’s worst nightmare. Police officers came to Treviño’s house and informed her that two teenage girls had died in a fire at a nearby apartment.

One of the girls was her daughter, 15-year-old Azalyia “YaYa” Hernandez. The other victim was her friend, 16-year-old Eliza “Ellie” Maurer.

Pictured: Azalyia Hernandez. Credit: Britny Cranford via GoFundMe

The girls were sophomores at Fredericksburg High School. The night started out like a typical weekend for any teenager: Hernandez told her mother that she was going to go to a sleepover with Maurer after they had both attended a quinceañera with her family earlier that day.

“I’m the type that when my kids aren’t at home, I’m the type that calls them. And I can’t go to sleep until I hear from them that they’re okay,” Treviño told Spectrum News 1. “I told her, ‘Okay, Azalyia, make good choices, think good choices and I love you.’ And the last text I got, ‘I will mom. I love you too.'” That was the last communication Treviño had with her daughter.

The Maurer family is also coping with their grief. They released a statement, saying: “We are shocked and devastated at the news of our daughter’s death. Ellie (Eliza) was a beautiful child. She loved playing basketball and volleyball. She had a spunky personality and was a social butterfly. Ellie was loved by her friends and family. We still cannot believe this happened. We have been so blessed by the outpouring of support by friends, family and the community and we are incredibly thankful for that.”

Pictured: Eliza Maurer; Credit: @1.ellie.m/Instagram

According to the Sorola-Treviño family, police suspect foul play was involved.

“As with all deaths, they are treated as a homicide until proven otherwise,” said Fredericksburg Chief of Police Steven Wetz to Spectrum News 1.

According to Treviño, police told her that the girls’ bodies were found in a bedroom. The Fredericksburg Police Department says that the primary causes of both deaths was smoke inhalation. Evidence points to the fire having been started on a couch.

“The very first thing that they told us was that they found them nude and that there was foul play, and there was some suspects who had run from the apartment,” said Gary Sorola, Hernandez’s stepfather, to Fox 7 Austin.

It is still unknown why the girls were at the apartment building, but the Sorola-Treviño family say that the girls knew the son of the woman who rents the apartment.

The Fredericksburg community is shaken by the death of the two girls. Both of the girls’ families are devastated. The victims’ families and friends said the two girls had big plans for the future. Ellie wanted to become a lawyer, while YaYa wanted to join the Air Force and work with K-9s before becoming a nurse.

December 14th would have been Azalyia’s 16th birthday. But now, her mother will have to endure what should have been a happy day without her daughter.

“Now she’s gone and I’m not gonna have a chance to ever see her grow or accomplish what she wanted to accomplish. She’s gone. They took her from me too young,” Treviño said.

Police are asking anyone with information about the night in question (November 21st) to come forward. Contact them at 830-997-7585 or call Crime Stoppers at 997-8477 (TIPS).

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